The thought of protecting myself has seemed so foreign since it was introduced to me weeks ago. When I say this, I'm not talking about a physical protection, although I could definitely work on that too. What I'm talking about is an emotional and spiritual protection.
As a little girl, I was often obnoxious, rude, and I felt like everyone's biggest problem. I always seemed to be in the way. I was sandwiched between amazingly, talented older sisters and two younger special needs siblings. I often believed I was bad because I craved attention all of the time. It was hard to feel stuck because when I didn't get attention, I was lonely but when I got attention, it was often in the form of someone telling me I was trying to get too much attention.
First issue: I felt like an attention-seeker.
I know that now, I didn't know it then.
I grew up so self-conscious about my personality that I overexagerrated often. I told people I prided myself in being different. I didn't want to be like them. I wanted to be over-the-top all of the time. And a part of that is true. I really, truly loved being me. 'Me' was such a special term because I liked who I was.
I used to think I was this open book, this person that overly-spilled her feelings but looking back and looking forward, my current therapist would laugh from that assumption. It's hard for me to open up about the real stuff. It's hard for me to get emotional because I'm so darn afraid of getting hurt or being judged or even just judging myself for seeming weak.
So many of those feelings seemed left behind when I graduated and was quickly married to that awesome guy who gave me two gorgeous children. I think marriage validated that I was worth something, that someone believed I was worth something. Marriage validated that I had someone who would always be rooting for me, who would always believe in me.
So you can imagine where this is going.
Divorce changed all of that.
When I serve others, I'm often double and triple checking to make sure I'm not serving "for the wrong reasons". And if I can successfully label any part of my service as attention-seeking behavior, I feel guilty and I tell myself I'm really, truly, an innately selfish being.
When I'm going through trials, there is a point where I have always believed everything should be better and I should no longer be hurting or bringing attention to myself because that is just overreacting and attention-seeking. My worry of not wanting to be an attention-seeker makes it so that I often lie about the way I'm feeling. And if I do tell the truth, my goodness I'm afraid I'll lose those people I trust so much in my life.
Because even people you trust can leave you.
I like to label a certain reaction of mine as the "spiral effect". In my life, this is the effect that happens when I see an imperfection in myself so I start beating myself down. I'm an emotional bully but only when it comes to me. I often perceive myself as this being that creates drama and annoys people around her. When people thank me for something good I've done, my mind says, "You did that good thing but...*insert some other excuse as to why I'm NOT good here*."
So my goal is to protect that little girl inside of me that always wanted love and sometimes needed extra attention. Instead of hating her and making things worse, I want to love her and encourage her to blossom.
Sounds easy, right?
No, not really. Not even a little bit.
But remember...I can do hard things.